Everyone has something to say, but why should anyone listen?
Well, if you are part of that group of everybody, your voice is drowned in the noise.
You have your expertise and experience to share. Your knowledge can be a guiding light to new businesses, and aspiring professionals and propel a healthy exchange of ideas with peers. The challenge is to get wider visibility, the ability to stand apart and be heard above the din. The path is uphill, but the antidote is to find the right platform to build and showcase your thought leadership with clear, consistent and candid communication.
In short, lead with your thoughts and carve a distinct positioning for yourself.
Now, most networking platforms put you on the rolling dice of likes and comments. It feels good. The growing followership, burgeoning requests to connect and accumulating treasure of emojis at best boost vanity.
Where is the leadership quotient? Where is the relevant circle of influence? Where are meaningful conversations?
Thought leadership positioning is something to be cultivated. It needs patience, perseverance and a promise of sustained communication. No short cuts, no magic pill.
Trust beyond numbers
Thought leadership is not about you alone. It is a vehicle to promote and build trust in your business as well.
You may say, “It’s numbers that speak.” I agree. But numbers are just digits in a moving clock unless put in the right context. Numbers fluctuate. How your post is received depends on several factors, including market volatility, socio economic events and even natural disasters with their immediate and far-reaching impact.
Thus, the gospel truth is that numbers alone cannot sustain your own or your business brand. In fact, they are a sum of incidental fillips and consequential dips. Change is the only constant in this instance. Clichéd, but true.
What works beyond numbers is the ‘TRUST’ you build, for yourself and your brand. This trust strengthens with every conversation that adds value to your audience. Remember, your knowledge and expertise is for giving. The more you give, the more respect you gain. What you say matters, choose your words wisely and speak on the subjects you have complete understanding of.
As a thought leader, telling a story with a committed approach and understanding can captivate your audience. As a result, people will take note of every step you take. If you dive deeper into your area of discipline and find nuggets to share, it will register and resonate, if you consistently engage with the audience, they will follow you, willingly.
The formula is simple. Be of value to your audience, gain their trust and see your circle of influence grow.
Leadership beyond optics
The objective of building a thought leadership brand is to establish yourself and your business as an authority in the industry and guide others towards growth and success. As you craft and share unique and valuable stories, you provide valuable insights and perspectives to your peers and followers.
Steve Jobs in a sense is the epitome of a thought leadership brand, He is known as much for his ahead of the time products as his own leadership style that continues to inspire generations of entrepreneurs. When you think of science fiction on celluloid, the first name that comes to mind is that of Steven Spielberg, right? Both are popular personalities and thus have captivated the imagination of generations. But beyond that, their actions and thoughts have inspired millions. They are not leaders simply because of their business empire. They are revered for the innovation they unleashed, far wider than their own limited industries.
Action beyond promise
The road to thought leadership is straight forward provided you make the right choice when on a crossroad. You must follow a set path and stay committed. Keep looking ahead and glancing at the rear-view mirror to ensure you are headed in the right direction. Of course, you would take some detours and enjoy the scenery while at it. As this is a journey of consistent focus and calculated risks coupled with experimentation in line with your ultimate destination
And on this path, nothing beats discipline, determination and diligence. So, let’s begin with the roadmap.
1. Develop Coherent and Concise Content: Share your thoughts and expertise in a manner that resonates with your target audience. Begin with a short paragraph or a concise idea/POV and build from there. You can further play with long-form posts, articles, infographics, carousels, and videos.
2. Maintain Consistency: Dispersed and scattered content creation is the biggest impediment in becoming a thought leader. Focus on maintaining a steady flow of content through blogs or podcasts and identify industry blogs where you can become a regular contributor.
3. Provide Gritty Details: Establish credibility by providing meaningful, granular, and actionable details on what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Be strategic in approach while allowing the audience to get the nitty gritty of executing an idea in their individual context.
4. Answer Unique Questions: Engage in conversations and have discourse on questions not many in your industry have come forth to tackle. Being the first to address commonly asked questions can set you apart from your peers.
5. Establish a Clear and Authoritative Point of View: Your thoughts are unique and be bold enough to share them with complete confidence. And this authority comes from being abreast with trends and discourse in your area of expertise. Stay informed and articulate your thoughts to become a trusted voice in your industry.
6. Focus on Specific Messaging: Not everything is for everybody. Define your niche and avoid generalization. This will help your audience identify with your voice and understand what you do and why you’re doing it.
7. Practice Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect every day, be more self-aware to build a broader perspective.
8. Use Simple Language: People do not like sermons, they love to talk. Interact with your audience in simple, conversational tone. Engage, mingle and be one with your network, it will make you stand out in a crowded market.
9. Know your Audience: Before you start the conversation, decide who you want to engage with and why. ‘This becomes your guiding light in building a relevant and mutually rewarding network. Take time to gather information and understand their needs and interests to drive meaningful dialog. You cannot have the same approach to different segments in your network. Here is how you bring distinction.
When speaking to clients, pivot your content towards them. As branding expert Bruce Turkle says, “Make it all about them!” By focusing on their needs and interests, you can create a more engaging experience for them and thereby build a stronger connect
When engaging a prospect, strive to be ahead of your competitors. Stay updated on emerging trends, identify interesting themes and bring fresh insights to the table. This will help you stand out and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Foundation of trust, edifice of rewarding relationships
At the core of every great leader lies the virtue of Trust. In a world of increasing uncertainty and economic turbulence, people look up to leaders and employers as a beacon of truth and honesty. Nothing builds trust better than a real, personal and relatable story.
Your voice is important, your thoughts are valuable. Do not let them be drowned in chaotic incoherence. Remember it is one thing to build a personal brand with moving ticker of likes and comments but crafting a thought leadership positioning is far more evolved and mature. And you deserve nothing less.